Founded in 2008, the Valley Tigers Lacrosse Club are members of the Nebraska High School Lacrosse League based roughly two hours from Central Iowa in Omaha, NE. The Tigers joined the league as a JV team in the 2009 season. They moved to the varsity level in 2010 where they have finished in the top four in each of the last three season under the guidance of head coach Zach Zielonko. Their overall varsity record includes 39 wins and 11 losses over three seasons.
As the Tigers embark upon their fifth year of existence, big changes have already occurred. Zielonko has moved onto to new opportunities in Colorado. Longtime assistants Tyler Nielsen and Austin Ladd have also left Des Moines for career reasons, leaving me in charge of the team. During the fall ball season, I began working on rebuilding our corps of coaches. In the coming weeks I hope to announce the new additions to the staff.
The 2013 season will officially being with a road game on March 30 at Burke High School in Omaha. Originally we were scheduled to play in a preseason tournament at the University of Nebraska on March 9 but had to pull out due to personnel issues, among other things. We tried setting up an out of conference weekend in mid-March, but our schedules did not align with our potential opponents’ schedules. Luckily we were able to grab a non-conference game against Grand Rapids (Minnesota) on April 14.
Changes to the league structure and the addition of a new team have shaken things up this season. We have returned to a divisional alignment with two games each against Burke, Westside, and Creighton Prep. We will host Millard North and Millard West at Southwoods Stadium. Road games will be played against Sarpy (formerly Bellevue), Lincoln, and newcomer Elkhorn. The playoff structure has changed yet again, with all games being held in Omaha over a single weekend.
Off course there will be some changes to our appearance as well. In response to the district’s request to bring our branding in line with theirs, we will be having new dark jerseys and new team shorts. Only a handful of people have seen the mock ups at this point, but they will be something of a departure from our current uniforms while retaining some key elements, notably the “UCLA” stripes. This year’s shooter shirt will feature the new logo and will recognize our fifth anniversary. Even our helmets will be refreshed with new decals featuring the lighter orange specified by the district and some new logos. I have nothing but love for our current look, but it simply did not fit with the new branding direction.
This year’s varsity team looks to be our toughest yet. With sophomore transplant Marcum in net and a host of experienced, athletic, and sizeable poles in front of him, we have a solid back end. LSM Tanner McDougal graduated last spring, but his understudy Kapustka is ready to step into the role. Kapustka hit the weight room hard in the offseason and his endurance is better than ever. Tornberg and McEntee return with Ben Oberneder moving to pole and Thompson earning a varsity promotion this season.
While we mourn the losses of stalwarts Harrington and Levis to graduation, our midfield and attack units look stronger than ever. A great number of experienced players, many of whom were all-state and/or Jr Buddha Ballers members last year, return. They are complimented by the deepest bench we have ever had. Here are a few more of our returning offensive players:
Preseason practices started last Saturday. Outdoor practices begin the first week of March. Overall we are on track to have more than 45 boys this season, making autonomous varsity and JV squads feasible for the first time ever!
Did I mention we’re launching a middle school team this year too?